Quantifying Losses from Cropped Depressions

Pothole "hotspot" research
Nutrient Management

Title:  Quantifying hotspots of nitrate and dissolved phosphorus losses from cropped depressions and their impacts at the catchment scale

Location:  Story, Boone, Palo Alto Counties

Time Period:  2018-present

Research Team:  Steven Hall, Bill Crumpton, and Matt Helmers

Project Description:  Improving our understanding of the spatial distribution of “hotspots” for nitrate and phosphorus loading to surface water provides a key opportunity for informing strategic management interventions and their potential for improving regional water quality. Drained and cropped depressions (former prairie pothole wetlands) under corn and soybean cultivation often experience intermittent flooding and crop mortality. Our preliminary data show that these depressions represent likely hotspots for hydrologic nutrient losses that contribute disproportionately to nutrient losses at the field scale. Targeting these hotspots could enable an efficient strategy for nutrient reduction with lower impacts to farm operations. We will quantify the importance of depressions vs. uplands to field- and catchment-scale nutrient loading under traditional management, and in fields with cover crops.


Funders:  Iowa Nutrient Research Center, EPA, USDA

Disclaimer:  This is an active research site, please contact the research team prior to planning any site visits.